Q&A: Cyclists like BRT

The East Bay Bus Rapid Transit system offers a host of benefits to the cycling community, from enhanced highway and station safety to bicycle storage areas along the route.

The East Bay Bicycle Coalition is among the many organizations that have gone on the record in support of BRT.

Dave Campbell, the coalition’s director of advocacy, talks about the coalition’s issues as the inaugural guest of the ‘Five Questions’ feature.

Q: Dave, please tell us a little about the coalition.

A: The East Bay Bicycle Coalition traces its roots back 41 years, to a time when BART banned all bicycles. A lot has changed and AC Transit has been among the leaders in working with the cycling community. Today, the coalition’s membership includes 4,000 riders in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

Q: Cyclist safety is always a concern. How does the Bus Rapid Transit project address safety concerns?

Good transit routes are also good routes for bicyclists. It is dangerous for a cyclist to be forced to jockey for position with a massive bus. BRT’s center-island station concept with bike lanes along the outer side of the road will go a long way to ease those fears along International Boulevard. Cyclists will keep right and continue safely on their way as the bus stops at the center-island station. It’s a cyclist-friendly design.

Q: The design phase is still underway and the coalition has made some suggestions about curb-side stations. Can you explain?

A: Yes, we are still working with BRT designers on safety issues at curb-side stations. The goal is to avoid patterns that force cyclists and buses to cross paths. The best answer is construction of new station pads that better accommodate bike lanes, but we acknowledge that will take money that is not currently available. The coalition is eager to work with BRT officials in pursuing federal dollars under the Safe Route to Transit program and other funding sources that could pay for these upgrades.

Q: Bike parking has been a concern. How is that situation looking?

A: AC Transit has a long history of working with the cycling community. It was the first agency to put bike racks on its buses and it has agreed to allow bikes on all BRT buses. That’s a great commitment. They’ve also agreed to install bike racks at all center-island stations. We continue to discuss bike parking at curb-side stops. Ultimately, we expect to see bicycle parking – maybe as many as 200 spots – at about 50 stops along the 9.5-mile route.

Q: What’s next on the agenda?

A: AC Transit has been great to work with on BRT and we would like to build on the relationship to expand opportunities for people who bike across the East Bay. One area that has real potential is the development of east-west bicycling routes that can act as feeders for BRT in East Oakland. We’re talking with Oakland officials and community representatives and look forward to future talks with San Leandro officials. Earlier, I mentioned the federal Safe Route to Transit program. There are dollars there that Oakland and San Leandro might be able to access for this purpose.